Jobs & the Economy, Taxes & Government Spending, Education, Crime & Public Safety

CT Government Weekly Rundown—September 23

  • Sep 23, 2013
  • Alexandra Forrester

August 2013 Jobs Data Shows CT Continuing to Lag USA in Job Growth
The Department of Labor this week released the August results of its monthly employment surveys of Connecticut employers and residents.  The employer survey showed the state’s “nonfarm payrolls” decreasing by 6,000.  However, this comes on the heals of an abnormally large gain of 11,500 that the survey reported for July.   Both the large gain in July and large loss in August reflect month-to-month volatility – the overall trend in the employment survey remains one of slow but steady growth.  The Department’s monthly survey of Connecticut households showed the number of Connecticut “residents employed” decreasing by 1,400, continuing a trend over the last few years.

The most useful way to understand jobs numbers is to not read too heavily into any one report, but rather to look at longer term year-over-year trends.  It is also useful to compare Connecticut’s job performance to the rest of the country, as that helps isolate state-specific job trends. 

From August 2012 to August 2013 Connecticut’s “nonfarm payrolls” grew by 15,400, or 0.94%.  During the same period, US nonfarm payrolls grew by 1.65%, nearly twice Connecticut’s rate.  From August 2012 to August 2013, the number of Connecticut “residents employed”  fell by 14,700, a 0.86% reduction.  During the same period, the number of US residents employed grew by 1.41%. 

What It Means For You: The Department of Labor’s two employment surveys paint slightly different pictures of the state’s job performance.  But even if you go exclusively by the employer survey – which paints the more favorable picture of the two – the state’s jobs performance remains worse than that of the US as a whole.

State Sued for Allegedly Skimping on Education FundingOn September 16, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard the state’s case to dismiss a nine-year-old suit accusing the government of shirking its state constitutional obligation to provide adequate education for all residents. The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding began the suit in 2005—now the state is looking to dismiss the case in light of the recent education reforms. The CT attorney general argues that the 2012 education reforms and the 2013 changes to the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula satisfies the state’s constitutional requirements. Supporters of the suit disagree, stating that current funding for schools falls 763 million short of the ECS Formula.

A CPI paper on education reform released last week notes that the ECS program has been successful in eliminating overall inequality between poorer and wealthier districts  – the wealthiest twenty percent of districts in Connecticut now spend roughly the same per student as the poorest twenty percent of districts.  But in spite of the 2012 reforms and 2013 changes, the ECS program remains riddled with its own inequities and fails to incentivize the effective use of allocated funds.  The CPI paper argues Connecticut should replace ECS with a “money follows the child” student-based allocation model, weighted to the students’ needs.  In this model students “carry” their allotted per-pupil funding with them to whichever school they attend. The allotted amount per student should be based on a weighted student formula, which allocates more money for students whose education is more costly, such as those in extreme poverty, English Language Learners, and special education students. Several states and districts, including Rhode Island, San Francisco, and New York City have implemented per-pupil cost formulas that could be a model for Connecticut.

What it means for you: Spending more on education is never a bad thing, but the state also needs to change the structure of its education funding to make spending more effective.

State Announces Tax Amnesty Until November 15th
The state Department of Revenue Services announced on September 16th that it is offering a new tax amnesty program for the next 60 days. This program will allow businesses and residents to pay back-taxes with a 75 percent reduction in interest owed. The program is expected to bring in 35 million in revenue.

What it means for you: If you are one of the 80,000 taxpayers that owes the state money, now is a good time to pay. To encourage taxpayers to take advantage of this program, the state will increase the interest penalty it applies to delinquent taxes from 10 to 25 percent on any taxes still owed after the amnesty period ends.

State Grants $5 million to Improve School Security
Gov. Malloy announced on September 18th the first round of funding for increasing school security. The initiative, established in the state's recent gun control legislation, will provide $5 million in grants now and $15 million by the end of this calendar year.  The grants are awarded to municipalities, who must offer some amount of matching spending.

What it means for you: If your district is one of the 36 that successfully procured funding, you may see increased security measures within schools.  However, there are limitations on the uses of state funds. For instance, state funds cannot be used to hire armed guards, although municipalities can hire armed guards on their own if they wish.

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